Public Holidale

Dale.


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Parallel Computing

I'm starting to worry that I'm developing an obsession with time frugality; I'm becoming a tightarse of time, if you will. I've always been a micro-manager of cents, although I'm not conservative in such a way that I'll never spend money on luxury items. Or Lego. I just can't disable the voice in my head that tries to talk me into blowing my nose with toilet paper instead of tissues to save half a cent. Or ration out the dishwashing liquid to appropriate amounts for the load of dishes.

Since I recently joined up at Costco and now have a year's supply of toilet paper, sponges and paper towels among other daily necessities my brain has been able to relax on daily skimping and instead focus its attention on saving me time instead of money. For example, when preparing meals I will go to lengths to make sure I'm putting already used things into the fridge when I retrieve the next ingredients. Similarly I find it hard to walk from room to room without having my hands holding something that is going back to its home, or being moved to where it will soon be used. I obsess over Google maps to find the best route anywhere I'm about to go. And for walks I make the trips even shorter by walking across roads at an acute an angle as possible to the curb.
I recently installed an SSD as my boot disk and tweaked my PC's start up so that it takes less time to start then it takes for me to open the blinds, sit down, and put on my headphones – all of which I obviously do after I press power. I now refuse to listen to music when I end up stuck standing on the train, instead preferring audio books so that I can learn and transport myself at the same time. As my new job has me working on site for my client I inevitably end up using two computers all day and I have quickly trained myself to use both simultaneously. My left hand mouse skills are impressive.

Since my motor cortex went dual core I've found that it's reached the point where I start feeling anxious and fidgety whenever I'm not doing something while also doing something else. Even this entry I am writing on the train on my way home from work while simultaneously listening to new releases on my phone for tracks to recruit for my next Virtual DJ mini-mix.
I honestly don't know how much time all this ultra-efficiency actually results in. Depending on what you count as a real time saving (e.g. super-setting chores) versus opportunity time saving (learning while commuting) I would estimate I save 15-30 minutes a day. Dressing and packing my bag while I eat breakfast nets me an extra hour of sleep a week alone by my calculations.
What do I do with most of this bonus time? Get beaten by children at Starcraft 2.

Journal Jinxes Revisited

I can't believe I grew complacement enough to proudly share my operating system upgrades with the internet on Tuesday.
The Blue Screens of Death began on Wednesday, the formats satarted Thursday and around about lunch time today my computer went to hardware heaven. Or, could be considered reincarnated as a tone-deaf music box.

I don't need a computer to be happy, but my PC does tend to make itself the cornerstone of most of what I do as a photograper, writer, Lego builder, television watcher and programmer.

Now I am lost. If I didn't have my work laptop, my smart phone and a TV that can connect to the internet I'm not sure I'd be able to keep it all together.

Mistake

There were no station guards on duty to instruct commuters to stay behind the yellow lines. Dale did so regardless, conditioned to obey the paint; spread himself evenly along the platform; and to allow others to disembark before boarding. The rails below began to hum and the front engine of the train came into view as it rounded the not-too-distant bend.
'Train!' shrilled the voice of a young boy a few metres down the platform. 'Traaaain!'
Dale wished that just once he could share that enthusiasm for a trip to work.
Inside the carriage was an overwhelming amount of available seats, an unusual bounty for peak hour on a Monday. Dale gratefully sank into one and his eyelids closed involuntarily. Dale had spent so much of last night lying awake and thinking of the office that at one point in the early hours of the morning he was considering adding several hours of dreams to his timesheets.
'Choo choo!' the gleeful voice behind him cried as the train rumbled away from the platform.

The unease that Dale felt in his belly that morning was growing when he walked into the empty foyer of the office tower. Normally at this point in the morning there were crowds around the elevators doors, the mailboxes and the small coffee shop in front of the lobby. Today it was only Dale and the short, Irish lady who ran Brenda's Beans. The sun lit up the glassy lobby and the particles of dust in the empty air suddenly prompted Dale to think:
'Daylight savings! Did I forget it!?' he thought. 'Did I accidentally arrive to work an hour earlier than necessary? If that's the case I am definitely buying myself a donut for morning tea.'
Dale called the elevators with the control panel which illuminated momentarily before beeping at him and fading out. He tried a second time with the same result. The double doors did not open and Dale felt the eyes of Brenda watching him.
'Um,' he said, taking a step towards her counter. 'I think I'm too early?'
'You need a building pass for the lifts today.' She walked around from behind the bar and swiped an access card dangling from her hip against the controls. The doors opened.
'Now you can hop in and pick your floor.'
Dale thanked her and ascended.

It was the moment the lift doors reopened to reveal an empty office that Dale came to appreciate why the lifts did not work today.
'Mistake!' he squeaked, and tried to squeeze back into the closing lift door to no avail.
'Dale?' asked a stern voice. 'What are you doing here?'
Dale looked into the corner office where Karl sat, his tie slightly loosened but otherwise looking as sharp as he'd been on Friday afternoon.
'Going for an early start to the week?' Karl inquired. 'Or did you just forget it was a public holiday?'
'Early start,' Dale chose quickly.
'Good man! That's what I like to see. It might be a holiday here, but the markets will open in Japan in two hours, and when they close New York will be ready to resume.'
Under the richly brown desk Dale could see Karl's shoeless feet shift positions on the carpet. Now that he thought about it, the expensively dressed Karl may have been wearing exactly the same suit as Friday.
'It's fantastic to see you here, Dale.' Karl continued. 'I've had you pegged as bright, so it's encouraging to know you also don't mind putting in the extra hours. As you'd know, if you're not happy putting in the long hours now you're never going to be selected for upper management where long hours are mandatory.'
'Is it worth it?' asked Dale.
Karl laughed.
'I could retire tomorrow, if I wanted to. Now, start your work. I didn't allocate any time today for this much small talk.'
Dale strode to his cubicle enthusiastically, Karl style. He logged in and opened his email where there was one unread email from Friday afternoon. It was a companywide overview of the week's achievements and Dale read it line by line. At its conclusion he had no items to action. He pondered for a moment, and then read it again. Fifteen minutes later Dale realised that most of the work he did in the field of incident management was reactive and the only way he would get a head start on the week's work was by breaking something himself, or letting sweet unconsciousness recharge his brain.
It took another two hours, but eventually Dale heard Karl engaged in a phone call and used it as a diversion to escape. He offered a single-movement wave to a mid-sentence Karl and then the merciful lifts allowed him to re-enter so long as he only went to the ground floor. The steel doors closed to embrace him as the office disappeared.

Once Karl heard the lift doors close he opened a desk drawer and retrieved the half finished vodka glass. He took a thick sip before placing it back down on the oak surface, and then proceeded to type up more sales projections with an unbridled ferocity.

In the lobby again, Dale decided to order a coffee to help justify the morning's trip. Brenda handed him the takeaway cup and asked him if he needed to be let back into the lift.
'No, thanks.' said Dale. 'I'm going home. But, tell me, how come my access pass doesn't let me into my office but yours does?'
'I don't know,' Brenda thought about it. 'Maybe it's based on seniority?'
'Seniority? I mean, I'm only a contractor sure. But don't you just make coffees?'
'That's one way to look at it. The way I see it, yes, I make coffees. And I also manage the business where I make the coffees. So I'm a manager. In fact, I own this business and make all the decisions about it. So I guess that makes me the CEO. Maybe, when you're a CEO, you too will have a building pass?'
'That explains why you're working on a holiday, I guess. Thanks for the coffee. Please cancel the donut.'
Dale turned to start his walk back to the train station.


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Photos I Didn't Take

I'm still sadly without my primary computer, forced to write out journal entries on my work laptop or my phone. That means I'm also without my photo processing software which is just one of many factors making it hard to post photos lately (another factor: I take mostly terrible photos). Seeing I can't post photos I thought I would instead share a description of some photos I would have posted, had my computer not taken Spring off. Then I thought that if I'm delving into the hypothetical I might as well describe the photos I would have posted if I had both a working computer as well as photographic talent:

The first bananas I've bought since last summer, sitting fat like a still life painting in the fruit bowl on our kitchen table.

A view of Sydney Harbour, looking west through a train window and an out of focus wire screen of safety on the Harbour Bridge's edge. The gold lit waters below are dotted with sailboats floating between the reflections of skyscrapers.

A wide angle photo of the houses on the decreasingly green Park Rd, Hurstville that shows the growing dominance of contemporary McMansion lots among the late 80s architecture, with construction sites interspersed giving birth to the former.

A clean, slightly oversaturated and sharpened photo of Lego Minifig Series 5 Godzilla against a stark white background. Except, his regular size legs have been switched for a pair of half-size legs giving the appearance of an adorable mini Godzilla.

A small tree in my backyard brimming with a flock of rainbow lorikeets who feed on the branches while Sunday afternoon sun lights up the bright orange and reds painted in their feathers.

A fast shutter speed exposure of Vanessa's legs in yoga pants as she walks across the room in the first hours of a sunlit spring morning. Don't tell her that I hypothetically posted this photo of her on the internet.

A view down the long, crowded length of one of the underground platforms of Sydney's Town Hall train station. A wall of waiting commuters stretch into the horizon, their raised hands hold up a smaller line of lit up smart phones and tablet devices, which I have focussed on with a large aperture to blur the faces of those holding them into anonymous blobs in suits.

Penultimate Dale

The song Dale selected for his alarm on Sunday night was intended to make the following Monday morning more tolerable. He had a reoccurring experience where whatever song he woke up to would stay in his head most of the day. With that in mind Dale programmed Electric Light Orchestra's Mr. Blue Sky to keep his feet moving throughout the morning routine.
Dale's early rise was motivated by Karl, who he was finding rewarding to impress. Tuesday through Friday last week Dale had birthed a slow epiphany that hard work was sometimes worthwhile, even if it's only benefit was the satisfaction that came from completing a long period of working hard. I was a little disappointed when he told me this. I am an advocate of hard work when it's warranted, but my philosophy was to put the effort towards preventing hard work being required, not doing it unnecessarily.
'Finding easy ways to pass the day without exertion doesn't give me a reason for getting out of bed when my alarm goes off at 6am Monday morning,' he told me.
'No, it doesn't.' I replied. 'But it probably means you can sleep in.'
Dale didn't respond to any of my coffee break requests the rest of the week. He didn't give up caffeine; I saw him buying coffee with Karl instead. They both ordered espressos and finished drinking them in the lift before hurrying back to spreadsheets and shell prompts.

At the train station Dale stood in line, having not expected the queue for tickets this early in the morning to actually be longer than average. He stole agitated glances at the analogue clock above the station gates, calculating the time until his train left and dividing it by the number of people still in front of him. The early train was his goal; it would transport him to the office with enough time to send out an email to the floor's distribution list before anyone else arrived. The mail's contents were still under construction but its message was obvious.
The moment Dale finally faced his turn at the ticket machine he was, without warning, shoved backwards a step by a woman wearing an expensive, slate business suit. She did not say a word to him, merely inserted coins into the machine with her back to him and collected a ticket before walking away coldly. Dale also said nothing; she was clearly someone else's Karl.
After she left he rushed through his ticket purchase, grabbed the ticket and dashed to his platform. The train was already on approach and swarms of more leisurely commuters heading back out to the suburbs were impeding his path. He saw a shortcut - the two foot leap over the hand rail that other commuters and their bikes were forced to detour around. The train's departure was imminent and he realised it was the only way he could make it onboard, but he couldn't do it. Not in the crowded station. He followed the rest of the mass along the designated path and set foot on his platform as the carriages pulled away. Once it was out of sight he found a pole to lean against and stood, unmoving for the twenty minutes before the next train arrived. Mr Blue Sky wouldn't stop looping in his mind the entire wait.

'Where is Dale?' Joe asked the meeting room. No one had an answer; some checked their phones and came up with blank looks. Miguel looked apathetic. Karl sat at the head of the table looking increasingly perturbed at the time-sink this meeting was becoming. Harold spied a silence that ached for his voice.
'I will start by going over the action items from Friday afternoon's meeting.' He said. 'Number one...'

Karl watched Harold speak, staring at his lips that moved purposefully but couldn't produce any sound that was able to penetrate the white noise that buzzed inside his brain. Karl needed coffee and wanted drugs.
Illegal drugs.
Harold continued his summary and Karl found himself fascinated by the shape of the man's head, wondering if could be possible to tear out his skull and turn it into a makeshift coffee grinder.
'It probably wouldn't work,' he thought. 'If I could fashion a stopper out of his spine? Maybe...'
Harold was watching Karl and looked a little uncomfortable, his mouth hung slightly agape as he waited for his manager to give him some kind of prompt or response. Karl could not stop envisioning using Harold's jaws to grind Arabica beans.'
'Yes, that could work,' he said, not meaning to mutter it so loudly.
'It... It could?' Stammered Harold. 'Um, good. I'll start on it this afternoon.'
'Please, keep me posted,' instructed Karl. In his head he made a note: 'If Harold does something beneficial this afternoon, take all credit. If bad, make coffee grinder.'
'Where is Dale?' asked Joe again.

Dale sat at his desk, his email inbox beeped at him. The unread item was work for him to do. A task for him to investigate, from Karl, with clearly defined outcomes requested for him to produce. Dale smiled and inserted his headphones, ready to start pumping out deliverables to a soundtrack. He'd worked only a few minutes when the computer beeped again; loud clangs heralding another email's arrival. More jobs to do. Dale bopped his head as he typed, feeling the rhythm as he started chipping away at his tasks. Minutes later the email chimed again, three heavy rings that sounded too loud and distinct to be appropriate as email notifications. They sounded to Dale like the warning that train doors were closing.
'No. Don't be dreaming,' said Dale.
The realisation that he had been listening to his headphones for fifteen minutes without being interrupted once with a question from Miguel shocked him awake. The train he sat on jostled around a bend. The sun outside was high in a cloudless sky. Dale didn't know how many loops of the city circle he'd done so far, but he could see through the window that the skyscrapers were shrinking behind him. The train arrived where he'd originally boarded and he saw no reason at this point to make another trip back into town and he disembarked.
The station was different when the sun was directly overhead and the crowds had dispersed. He had the platform to himself as he departed and crossed over the tracks and towards the railing he'd chickened out of leaping before.
Dale looked around, the station wasn't completely empty but its occupants paid him no notice. He turned to face the railing, took a deep breath, and jumped over it. The business shoes he wore thunked onto the pavement below simultaneously and he felt his knees and hips absorb the impact in accordance with their design. He looked around, feeling a giddy rush on the same level as the only time he'd ever handed out his business card. He walked the several metres around, back up to the top of the walkway and then without hesitation jumped back down. A pair of parents were watching him now, keeping their toddlers within arm's reach as they monitored him from the other end of the platform. Dale briefly contemplated unleashing a passionate yell, but instead rounded the walkway and cleared the barrier again. A train rushed by. It was an express service and didn't stop. Dale stood back on the platform while it powered through, but intentionally left his toes over the yellow line. When it had finished passing he jumped the railing another three times and then, satisfied, he strolled out the station gates.
'What was that about?' the station guard at the exit asked him as he left.
'Whatever helps you get through a Monday, right?' he said back.
Dale whistled Mr Blue Sky's melody as he walked back towards his apartment.

Next week will be the gripping 2011 finale of Mondales. Will Dale find a way through the motivation barrier or will he succumb to the gnawing voice in his head that says there's enough evidence to justify going crazy. Will anyone at Dale's office work out what Dale's job actually is? Will I be able to use the words "cubicle", "train" and "kitchenette" in a single sentence? Tune in next Monday to find out.

Straight Up Ballin'


I played social basketball last night for the first time in almost a year. It was the result of a rather unexpected call that came about 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

I originally posted my ad at the local basketball stadium about three months ago. It said that I was looking for a team and that I was tall (I didn't go through with describing myself as "Dirkesque"). Until yesterday I'd received no interest. Curiously enough I was actually walking around Macquarie University in my lunch break mere hours before that call and I found some outdoor basketball courts that I stared at wistfully. Then I wondered if this was the first time I had consciously stared at something wistfully. Then I thought, wow, there are a ridiculous number of uni students sleeping on this grass in the sun.

The game itself went alright. We did not win and I gave hope to a young spastic child, but I also did not cause any new injuries so overall I'm counting it as a positive experience. When I was younger I'd envisioned myself as someone who would keep fit and keep playing basketball into my 50s. It has definitely been an unwelcome experience going so long without playing. The time off had no effect on my ability to knock down short corner jumpers however. And the way my body felt after waking up this morning made me realise I'd essentially achieved my goal of playing basketball as a 50 year old.

Cut

I was not surprised today when I learnt my philosophy when it comes to mowing the lawn is the same as my philosophy towards haircuts. Both are events that I delay for as long as possible for both economical and social reasons, and I relent only once I start feeling paranoid about the social consequences of letting things grow further.

My hair and my lawn seem to have another thing in common: the above average speed and thickness with which they grow. Sydney charged me $75 to cut my lawn late August. It's not like I have a huge yard, but this is apparently a competitive rate. Still, when I received a reminder a month ago saying my next mow was due I scoffed and ignored it. A month later I decided that two months per mow was value enough and I organised another appointment. The grass was pretty unruly by this point, so I was looking forward to coming home to a nice yard.

I received the call this morning from the gardener who told me with this level of regrowth the fee would be $100. This is the kind of thing Sydney does to you regularly, so I went to my usual strategies: act sad and try to barter. I offered him $80 and he said 'forget that, this is a two hour job.'

Do gardeners really make $50 an hour? I eventually agreed to this rate because - I have to admit - I'm ignorant to the intricacies of lawn mowing. I know that grass is very heavy when you cut it. The rest is mysterious. I thought at first I might be in the wrong industry, and then I realised maybe I wasn't even smart enough to make it in the lawn care business. Then I thought, wait a second, cutting someone's lawn can't be that different to cutting someone's hair. How much are hairdressers paid per hour?

So, I went to have my haircut. It took about 30 minutes and they charged me $25. So there I was, down $125 but happy at least in the balance of the world.

End of Dales

The suburbs were waking and starting their weeks. Dale's head was pressed against a train window, watching the queues of cars idling as they glistened in the sunrise. Pressing Dale against that window was the flabby shoulder of a giant woman in a sundress. She'd eyed off the one remaining gap in the rows of facing bench seats in the carriage, put her index finger to the side of her lips to ponder and then backed herself in over two pairs of knees and filled the rest of the available space like a forkful of reheated curry landing on the middle of a keyboard. With gritted teeth Dale accepted that this was the tipping point that made the extra ten minutes of sleep worth less than the later train and tardiness it resulted in.

There is a pattern of body language cues that most peak hour commuters learn will help them escape to the exit without the need to speak whenever conditions get intimate. After the announcer declared Dale's stop as next he began the dance, sitting up straight, glancing sideways at the doors and putting his satchel on his lap. The ritual worked, but the cramped conditions slowed his progress and his feet barely arrived on the platform when the doors closed behind him and the train trundled away. Dale's usual perogative was to be the first to disembark to avoid the crowd swell around the turnstiles, today he found himself waiting to exit like everyone else.
His late arrival compounded, and with the whiff of lunchmeaty perspiration on his arm Dale felt a pang of surliness that his plan to impress Karl this week with his work ethic and professional grooming was already ruined. He wished he'd had a list of other priorities to fall back on.

At street level Dale engaged his upper-management speed strides to cover the distance remaining to the office with as much disdain for leisure as possible. He was still in second gear when he spotted Harold ahead of him, ambling at a less anxious pace. There were three options: catch Harold and listen to him talk the rest of the way; speed past with fake blindness and deal with the social guilt; or slow his roll and keep the current distance between them the rest of the trip – discarding any last hope of pseudo-punctuality. Dale voted for temporary blindness and put his head down to accelerate past the man. There was no evidence to suggest that Harold had any idea Dale was behind him. Somehow that did not stop him from being mid-sentence the instant Dale drew level.

'The air smells clean today,' he said. The speed went out of Dale's legs and he cringed as he slapped into the centre of Harold's conversational web.
'The air smells clean... today.' Dale parroted, clueless to how a statement like that should be answered but feeling his body traitorously locking into step with Harold's slower stride.
'Eventful weekend this one, for the world,' Harold stated. 'Did you see the news?'
The office loomed ahead of them but seemed to grow no bigger on the horizon as they walked. Dale felt like an interview subject being tortured by a tabloid reporter who meant to trick him into talking with open ended questions and uncomfortable silences.
'How was your weekend?' Dale asked. Finally sick of the awkwardness. 'Was there... weather?'
'Oh yes!' said Harold. 'So much to tell. And so unusual for this time of year.'
The conversation stopped abruptly as the walk brought the front of the office into view and the orgy of fire trucks and police cars was revealed. The building stood intact, but showed no sign of life or light. The two hurried closer and found the building supervisor standing in the delivery dock addressing the building's employees. Karl was not with them. Dale and Harold approached to listen when a loud bang and some crunching made him spin around. By the front doors a pair of firemen in hazmat suits were lifting two fabric walls of a cubicle assembly into a huge metal skip that was already full with more of the same.

'There has been a hazardous substance incident,' the supervisor was announcing. 'At this point we have classified the whole building as contaminated.'
There were worried murmurs from the crowd. A computer monitor and an armful of keyboards were hurled into the skip. Dale's mind turned to the fate of the last tub of yogurt he'd left the fridge over the weekend.

'What happened?' Joe asked. Dale wondered why that hadn't been his first thought, instead of yogurt.
'There is an investigation to come. We don't have any conclusive findings as of yet.
'What do we do now?' Miguel wanted to know.
'I saw Karl hurrying away with his laptop when I first arrived this morning,' responded Joe. 'Maybe he was going to the other city office?'
'Unfortunately,' the supervisor interrupted, 'due to our system of hot-desking and real estate utilisation we are already over legal capacity for workers at all our other offices. At this point if you have your laptop you can take it to our Alliance Partner McDonalds and use their free wireless, otherwise you are to return home to work as best you can and wait for further information. Someone will be in touch when we've organised alternative locations.'
Behind the supervisor Dale watched the firemen lift a cubicle wall with a Dilbert strip he'd seen every day still pinned to its padded surface onto the pile of the almost overflowing skip.
'That's all for now, please continue to check your emails over the course of the week.'

Dale left before the end of the sentence. He had lost count of the times he'd fantasized about the 9:30am train home. He did not want to wait for Harold. He knew in his heart that there was a high probablity that he would last less than a week at home before he drove back to the office in the middle of the night, dug his cubicle walls and coffee mug out of the dumpsters and reassembled his workstation in the middle of his living room. Until then he had a train station to make it to. He set off quickly, Karl style.

Ahem

Random Rule Number Something of being a successful writer: Have a blog. This is a way of connecting with readers, self-promoting and keeping your writing skills sharp.

I am not a successful writer but I believe in the "fake it 'til you make it" mantra so I figured I should make sure I keep up my journal with important facts about me so that I can make future and current readers like me by sharing personal things, talk about myself and do write thing well.

Hello current and future reader, today I was sick with a cold and/or a throat infection thing and did my best not to be over-dramatic about it. I did that pretty well. I did very little complaining and I didn't speak with a rough, grumbly voice on purpose to make other people feel sorry for me. Apart from the five minutes after I coughed in the shower and my throat hurt a little and I screamed "WHY GOD WHY HAVE YOU CURSED ME WITH THIS AILMENT WHY" and I ripped the doors off the medicine cabinet and hurled them into the shower screen, I was able to keep it low key.

Apart from that I was resting and working and I didn't do any writing.

Society

There's an unspoken rule on the train. "Do unto others as you would have done unto you". Except in modern day metropolises that mantra has been flipped to "don't do anything unto anyone as you would prefer everyone to not do to you." Don't talk loudly on the phone, don't produce any noticeable odours, take all your DNA with you upon disembarking, don't eat anything, don't take up extra seats, don't stand too close, don't leave too much space, don't block the doors, don't distract others from their iPads. This rule is followed by about 98% of people, the other two percent tend to moan loudly about imaginary religious friends; swear at their friends or relatives on the phone; lean on your shoulder to sleep; and defecate with reckless abandon on the seats reserved for the elderly or disabled.

I apologise once again that it seems so much of what I write lately has to do with trains. I currently spend about 10% of my life on them. It's not all bad, I've been reading many books and keeping up to date with many 20-30 minute long television shows.
I sometimes think about what life was like before portable audio. When steam trains were crammed with passengers, did they talk to each other? Strike up conversations and make each others acquaintanceship to pass the time. Or did they do crosswords with graphite pencils and all stare out the window?

This morning my commute to work stretched out to over two hours due to a necessary detour to drop Vanessa off at work before I drove back towards the city. I chose to skip breakfast. Part way through the transit a tiny wait for the next train presented an opportunity to finally feed myself with something from the prevalent chain of stores called "Pie Face". I doubt I was the only person standing on the carriage who hadn't eaten breakfast, but I was the only one who was eating a bacon and egg pie from a brown paper bag that crinkled maddeningly loud every time I changed my grip.

The moment I opened that meal I felt the sideways glances of everyone on the train locked on me. No one said anything, because starting conversations with other commuters violates that primary rule. I could read their thoughts, however. Most were angry, feeling there was no explanation for me to introduce the delicious aroma into the close-packed crowd. A small Japanese school girl looked up from a pole she leant against and said "motherfucker, you serious?" with her eyes. It was, to be honest, a lot of pressure for 8am and I promptly spilled most of the pie down my freshly ironed shirt and onto the floor. "Justice," they all thought in sync.

The remainder of my breakfast tasted delicious. When I was finished I bent over a scooped the spilt egg from the floor and my shoe into a napkin which then carried for an hour until I saw a bin again. I think this restored some credibility.